France’s cyber-defense chief, Adm. Arnaud Coustilliere, has announced that about 19,000 French websites have been hacked by cyber-terrorists since the Charlie Hebdo attacks left almost 20 people dead earlier last week.

Coustilliere lamented that the spike in cyber-attacks on French websites was unprecedented, and the surge cut across government websites to military sites as well as simple pizza shops online. According to him, most of the cyber-attacks appeared to be carried out by more or less structured groups including that of some well-known Islamic hacker groups, and most of them have to do with minor denial-of-service attacks.

“That’s never been seen before. It’s the first time that a country has been faced with such a large wave,” he said.

French President Francois Hollande has maintained his staunch stand behind every Muslim and Jew in France, and he vows to resist and punish any anti-Muslim or anti-Semitic acts that threaten the integrity of any religion.

The Charlie Hebdo attacks occurred when anti-Semitism is on the rise in France, and the act has sparked off several attacks on Muslim sites and targets across the country in apparent backlash of the attack on Charlie Hebdo. And expectedly, this development has put many French Muslims on the defensive.

According to Hollande, the millions of French Muslims within the country would be respected and protected “just as they themselves should respect the nation” in all ways. “Anti-Muslim acts, like anti-Semitism, should not just be denounced but severely punished,” Hollande said Thursday at the Institute of the Arab World in Paris. He also assured all Muslims and victims of Islamic violence that “In the face of terrorism, we are all united.”

France has deployed 120,000 security forces to watch against future religious attacks and track down terrorism suspects.

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